From Monday 17 January Local Authorities will start to accept applications to a discretionary Emergency Business Fund, and the award for qualifying sole traders and freelancers who do not pay business rates has now been increased to £1,000 (from £500 initially). The offical statement from The Welsh Government can be read here.
How to apply
An eligibility checker can be located via the Business Wales site, as well as more information on applying for the financial support and grants.
Unfortunately Local Authorities are opening their application process at different times. There is a list of links to Local Authority pages and some opening dates on the Business Wales website. We would therefore urge members to check their Local Authority’s arrangements for delivering this funding and apply as soon as possible. Please let us know about any problems you experience with the application process.
Further resources and support
We are also hoping that, as promised in the announcement about the £15.4m funding for the third round of the Cultural Recovery Fund on 12 January, there will be an announcement on further specific support for creative and cultural freelancers this week. Unfortunately we don’t know how this might interact with the Emergency Business Fund £1,000 grants described above. Hopefully further information will be released soon, but we would urge members, especially those facing hardship, to avoid missing out on the £1,000 Emergency Business Fund first and foremost. We will update you with any additional information as soon as we have it.
This is one of several schemes making up Welsh Government’s support for people and businesses affected by Covid-19, which also includes:
The latest round of the Cultural Recovery Fund will be delivered by Welsh Government and the Arts Council of Wales (merging with the previously announced Winter Stability Fund), and the Arts Council part of the scheme is now open for applications. Members should note that our understanding is that ERF funding is expected to help safeguard jobs, and anyone with any concerns in relation to that should get in touch.
A statement from the MU
The First Minister announced last week that Wales will gradually return to level zero over the next few weeks as long as the situation continues to improve. We will be updating our guidance for members soon to reflect those expected changes.
Andy Warnock, Regional Organiser for Wales and South West England said:
“This increased funding follows the Union’s work over the last month pressing Welsh Government to provide support to our members and other creative freelancers in Wales whose work and incomes have been affected by the Omicron variant at a crucial time of year. We’ve been working with the other creative unions, as well as WTUC and the broader union movement to highlight the significant problems created by the Omicron variant in terms of its effect on business and public confidence, the need to cancel work due to sickness or self-isolation, and then the alert level two restrictions imposed by the Welsh Government.
I’d urge members to apply for any funding they are eligible for as soon as possible, and to get in touch if you experience any issues.
We have also been sharing the serious effect the alert level two restrictions have been having on members’ work with Welsh Government - thank you to members who completed our recent survey, as the data was very helpful. I’m glad that the situation in Wales is improving and we’ll be able to return alert level zero again soon.
I’m really grateful to our colleagues for their work with us on these issues, and to ministers and officials in Welsh Government for their engagement with us, and I look forward to seeing more information on the specific funding for creative and cultural freelancers later this week.”